The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 Is a Baby SUV With a Ridiculous 382 HP

Somehow, a tiny crossover is one of the most powerful four-cylinder production cars ever built.

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Mercedes-AMG

Here's a sign of our absurd times—today, Mercedes-AMG announced a 382-hp four-cylinder crossover that sprints to 60 mph in just over four seconds, and it all seems normal. Business as usual. We should take a step back to appreciate this absurdity, though, because those numbers prove that AMG isn't screwing around with the 2021 GLA 45.

To handle all of that power, the GLA 45 gets an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and new version of AMG's 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system. In addition to apportioning power variably between the front and rear, the GLA 45 also has torque vectoring at the rear axle.

You might think a 382-hp 2.0-liter four might feel like a classic turbocharged mill, but it was actually designed to have a linear power band. Peak torque, 354 lb-ft, is available between 4750 and 5000 rpm, which AMG says makes the engine feel more like a naturally aspirated unit.

Amazingly, there's an even more powerful version of this baby SUV—the GLA 45 S, which serves up 416 hp from the same engine. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder is shared with the new CLA 45 S, but we're not getting the S variant of either car.

"The 45 fits the needs for the U.S. market at this time, however, we are constantly assessing the market to see what will best fit the needs of our customers and will reevaluate if warranted," spokesperson for Mercedes told Road & Track in an email.

Mercedes says the new GLA 45 is also supposed to be more comfortable than the harsh previous-generation car, while adaptive dampers allow you to stiffen things up when necessary. Optional six-piston front brake calipers should give great stopping performance, too.

There's also AMG Dynamics, which allows drivers to adjust the behavior of the stability control and all-wheel drive system. The system prioritizes stability in normal driving, but in Master mode, the inner rear wheel can be braked to induce oversteer during high-speed cornering. Advanced and Pro modes are also available, providing more leeway than Basic, without quite as much tail-wagging insanity as the most aggressive mode. All of these settings are tied to specific drive modes by default, but you can call them up in any configuration using the Individual setting.

The GLA 45 is also much nicer inside than its predecessor, with design and material improvements that carry over from the standard, redesigned GLA. Red stitching, red seatbelts, and available AMG performance seats differentiate the '45 on the inside from lesser GLAs, while flared fenders, unique wheels, big dual exhausts, a slatted grille, and a diffuser set the exterior apart.

Pricing has not been announced, but the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 will go on sale by the end of this year.

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